Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week ending February 26

Mon 2/20  4 miles easy on Cottonwood
Tue 2/21  6 1/2 miles around the neighborhood. I ran easy today knowing I would have more time tomorrow to go down to Croft and run some trails.
The Terrapin Mountain
well worth the diversion.
Credit: Frank Rodriguez via Facebook
Wed 2/22  8 1/2 miles at Croft. The Chapters is a one of my favorite trails, a two and a half mile section made up of a series of steep climbs and descents into and out of the floodplain of a small feeder creek. It’s the descents I think made a difference in last year’s Terrapin 50K, especially the rocky, sometimes very steep drop from the peak of Terrapin Mountain, about mile 21, down to a forest road and the last aid station at mile 25 or so. That I could keep my feet moving quickly meant I pulled away from a guy I had run the last seven or eight miles with. 

On this run I practiced picking a line through the roots and twists and rocks of the four fast descents, the longest about 2/3 of a mile. This is a tough run, and my legs felt slow from Tuesday and a day at work. I focused on the last miles of the race, pushing a pretty fair pace with tired legs.
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto Trail to the Chapters, back to the Palmetto, and out.
Thu 2/23  3 miles. I squeezed this one in before a public meeting I was leading. As usual, the running calms me. I wore short-shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt in 78 degree weather.
Fri 2/24  4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot
Sat 2/25  16 miles at Croft. About the hilliest route you can take--lots of very steep climbs, several sustained climbs, almost no flat sections. Again, I tried to focus on what my friend Ted always called “quick feet” on the descents. I started faster than normal because I met a guy in the parking lot who ended up running the first half with me. The New Balance MTSomethings and the “Pb” sticker were dead give-aways. He’s in town as an intern at the hospital; it was good to have some company.
My quads were pretty shot by the end, and I did practice walking because Ian Sharman told me to. But I felt good that I was still running hard downhill, especially in the more technical parts, and at the end.
from Dairy Ridge: New Edition to the Lake Trail to that little lake trail to TC’s to the Chapters to the Palmetto and out.
Sun 2/26  5 miles at Southside. Took every shortcut I could. My legs are very tired from yesterday, which means it was a harder workout than I thought. 
Total: 47 miles in seven runs
I feel good about the steady mileage, high for me. I’ll take this next week a little easier, then one last long run two weeks out before something of a taper for Terrapin. I know that when I’m running it I’ll know how I’ll compare to last year, but I’m trying not to think about time. 
As usual, I think a lot of things about my fitness right now. I have maintained reasonably high mileage without being overzealous and getting injured. I’ve been consistent, and feel strong even when I’m tired. With some rest, especially the week of the race, and the same patience I had in the race last year, I could run faster than I ran. But last year I had no idea what my time would be; this year I have a target time, good splits, and knowledge of the course. I can’t let those advantages become burdens.
I look forward to running a course for the second time, I look forward to a well organized event, with great aid stations, and a well marked course. Race director Clark Zeeland has tucked in some fun bits, too, with the  orienteering punch tools at a few key locations, especially making you go out to the rocky nub of a look out on Terrapin Mountain and sliding through Fat Man’s Misery, which woke me up in a sweat a few weeks before the race. Clark assured me by e-mail that the passage had never stopped anyone before, and that there was an alternate route. I slid through easily, and really like the parts of the course that make you experience the best of mountain running. 
Not least, I look forward to hanging out with legendary ultra-runner and character David Horton.  The link goes to a photo of my finish last year, shaking hands with Horton. He called every finisher’s name over the PA, razzed most of them in some way, congratulated everyone. He is a great asset to ultra-running. 
The best thing, though, is that C will be able to go with me, and we’re making a weekend of it. Camping the first night will be at the start/finish line, which I really  liked best after the race, when I crashed for a half-hour or so after I finished. C has been to one other race, and loved working an aid station. She’ll either work, or wander in the mountains and bump into us. Getting to see her through the race will be a real boost.  We’ll stay somewhere a little more settled on Saturday night after the race.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crossing Over Water

I cross over the wetlands on the Cottonwood Trail almost every time I run there. In this post from the proverbial archives, I try to understand why.
Most everyone knows I love the Cottonwood Trail, a small trail system that winds through the flood plain of the Lawson’s Fork Creek with a trailhead less than a mile from my house. I have often blamed the trail and its owner the Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE) for my moving to Spartanburg because I ran on it during a weekend visit to town to interview for a job.  Now nine years later I have run on the trail hundreds of times in all weather and every season, in deep untracked snow, sloppy mud, and dry dust. Right now wild roses bloom, and the creek flows deep. I have enjoyed seeing the system expand. I also now serve on the SPACE board, in part because of my commitment to the trail.

But one part of the trail system is one of my favorite third places—the wetlands area, now crossed by a boardwalk that allows visitors to rest in the middle of one of the most interesting environments in Spartanburg. I’ve seen owls, deer, songbirds of many sorts, turtles and other amphibious critters on my crossings of the wetlands. Mounds and tufts of green pop up from the water, which rises and lowers according to the season and the particular drought conditions. Those wild roses climb toward the sun, and skeletal trees stripped of bark and limbs are scattered among the living flora. The place has even been the site of scarecrow weddings, courtesy of Hub-Bub artists-in-residence a few years ago.
from SPACE website
But beyond the scenery, I have a thing for crossing over water. All the usual feelings—elemental, cleansing, flow—these all play into my crossings. But there’s a pull, indescribable, I reckon, even for one who tries to describe all things. I don’t always feel that tugging toward water, but a few places around have left me physically and psychically moved.
A few years ago I had a job in Inman, and my route to work crossed over the headwaters of the Lawson’s Fork, just before the various streams coalesce into one, the spot where maps first identify it as the Lawson’s Fork. The road descends into the floodplain, crosses the waters and rises again. There I feel a pull distinct from gravity, one that drew me both into the waters and downstream somehow at the same time. I, like the water, coalesced into stream, and the sensation felt healing.
Another of my favorite Lawson’s Fork crossings is over the abandoned bridge at Glendale. Our SPACE board meetings are held at Wofford’s Goodall Environmental Studies Center, and late for my first meeting, I parked on the south side of the bridge and walked over to save the time of driving the longer way around.
The bridge passes over the calm pond created by the mill dam, over which water spills in cascades, proceeding on its eastward run over the Glendale Shoals that paddlers play in throughout the spring, and where my children have played over the years we’ve visited the Shoals. I have always loved the place where water fall over drops, whether natural or human-made like this one. There’s a solidity that reminds me of the substantial part of water, combined with the constant moving which reminds me of the ephemeral element of water, where you can’t put you foot in the same river twice, the philosopher tells us. The Shoals are a dynamic place, shifting with the rising and lowering of the creek levels.
All these crossings of the Lawson’s Fork keep me feeling a part of the flow of waters of the Earth, even just this small volume a universe itself. Every crossing is new, a ritual re-enactment of every other crossing if I let it, new water and ancient passage, changing course and matter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sh*t MY dad says

1.       No rest for the weary.

2.       Act like you own the place.

3.       Eat slow, and eat a lot.

4.       Always go to the funeral.

5.       Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

6.       He he then haha there was this hahe

7.       Did I ever tell you the story about the family with four boys and no girls?

8.       Did I ever tell you the story about the family with four boys and one girl and no dogs?

9.       Eat shit, Pitt.

10.     Beat the shit out of Pitt.

11.     Still soldiering on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week ending February 19

Monday 2/13  4 miles on Cottonwood. Recovery

Tuesday 2/14  4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. There have only been a few days during my streak when I haven’t felt like running. Today was one of them. but out the door I finally went, having changed my plan from a hard 7 or so to an easy jog to the fields, and then my usual 2+ miles barefoot. As soon as I was outside I was fine: lately when I’ve been hitting the recovery runs, I tell myself that I’ve added another day as soon as I’m out on the street.
Wednesday 2/15  7 miles around the neighborhood, same as last Thursday. Once again, the miles did not roll off like before, but the time was the same. I’d been worried about not feeling like running, worrying that I was overtraining. Today felt good, though.
Thursday 2/16  4 miles easy on Cottonwood.
Fri 2/17  4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. Felt great, but eased back in  anticipation of 20+ tomorrow. This was my 40 straight day running--thought about rain, frogs, temptation in the desert. Even though I’m not religious, the religious quality of 40 days made me laugh.
Sat 2/18  21 miles at Croft. Ten minutes in and on the first climb, my legs felt tired. I never felt great, but carried on. I fell today for the first time in a year or two: I was checking out ways around a mud puddle, and hit one of the stumplets (the technical term) that are scattered around the trails here in the floodplain forests. Down I went; fortunately, I was more than a body-length from the puddle, or I would have gone face first into it. Bristol took the opportunity to drink some water from said puddle.
The B-Dog
Bristol was again amazing. Though I was fading pretty hard at the end, he skipped away from me in the last mile up Centerline. 
at Southside: Southside Loop to Lizard to Rock Creek to High and Dry to Southside to Fern Gully for the first loop. Southside to High and Dry back to Southside, then out by Centerline for the second.
Sun 2/19  6 miles at Croft with Seth and John G. Lots of rain, slippery trails, and water. Fairly quick, and I was glad it ended when it did. When was the last time you went stomping in mud puddles?
at Southside: Southside Loop to Centerline.
Total: 50 miles in seven runs

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week ending February 12

2/6  4 miles at Cottonwood
2/7  7 miles at Croft. Sometimes you have runs, like last week’s version of this mid-week run, where you just glide, feeling like you’re floating. Other days it doesn’t seem to come so easy. I felt like I was backing down a few different times today, but ended up running 15 seconds faster than last week on the same loop.
from Dairy Ridge: New Edition to Lake Johnson Connector to Palmetto 
2/8 3 miles easy.
2/9 7 miles around the neighborhood. Another good and quick run. I ran mostly on the roads today, something I haven’t done for a long while. I could really feel the difference in the toe-off today: asphalt gives back much more than dirt.
2/10 3 miles easy

This stuff is pretty nice, and makes a
lot of sense for public fields. 
2/11 7 miles on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville including 2 miles barefoot. Quinn had an audition today, so I ran for the first time on the Swamp Rabbit, a terrific rail conversion that goes about 17.5 miles between Greenville and Traveler’s Rest, SC. Plans are for the trail to extend even farther. Passed one of those new artificial turf fields, so I stopped on the way back for some very comfortable barefoot running.
2/12 12 miles at Croft. Ran with Gordon and Carol B., both of whom had awesome races at Harbison and ran much faster than I. So I made sure they were damn worn out before we started: Gordon had run for an hour-and-a-half when we met up, and Carol had run 1:40 in the morning. I did feel particularly spunky, though, and ran hard off the front most of the run on the hilly trails we took. Gordon loves to push, and came up on me a couple a times (the guy’s is a beast these days), and pulled away from me when he led a bit. 
Even though I was running hard, I tried to make it feel easy and light. But coming down the Palmetto Trail at the end, with its couple of hard climbs, has been feeling especially fast lately. I ran it on Tuesday, too, and include it in most of my Croft runs. 
from Dairy Ridge: Palmetto to TC’s to that lake trail to Lake Johnson Connector to Palmetto 
Total 43 miles in seven runs

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why I run for Team Fox

I’ve written some about why I’m using my running to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research. My father’s experience put me on this track, and the more I find out about my family and Parkinson’s, the more interesting the connections between what I’m doing and the effects of Parkinson’s become. Here I am celebrating my mobility, an athleticism that I have cultivated all my life, to raise money to support research into curing a disease which so radically diminishes mobility. The split is a central theme of this blog and project.
Feeling pretty clobbered at
the Harbison 50K finish line.
There are many worthy organizations supporting Parkinson’s disease research: my parents appreciate the National Parkinson’s Foundation because of the free classes they offer. But I’m running for Team Fox and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for a number of reasons, starting with the ease of their process for donating.
I have my own page with Team Fox that allows you to donate to the Foundation in my name. I set a goal of raising $10,000 by the time I run the Ice Age 50, my goal race, in May 2013. There is no known cure for Parkinson’s, and the medications my father takes only mask the symptoms while the disease progresses. The money I raise will fund cutting-edge research into therapies for those with Parkinson’s, but also research into the genetics of the disease, and treatments that may cure and prevent it. 
I found out about Team Fox reading about Sam Fox and his attempt at a speed record for completing the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Though not completing clear on the timeline, I think I had already thought of raising money for Parkinson’s research by this point. What struck me, though, was the Team Fox idea. 
I ran a marathon raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2001. Our Smoky Mountain Relay team raised money for globalbike, an organization that provides bicycles for health care workers in developing countries, based here in Spartanburg and founded by a bunch of my friends. I believe in putting my rather selfish habit to good use when possible. The Team Fox website is easy to use, and secure. Donations are tax‐deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Just click on the Team Fox logo on the left to go directly to my Team Fox fundraising page. 
Because I plan to ask for some corporate donations, I’m also asking that you become a follower of this blog. I intend to ask for donations from companies that support running and ultra-running, and whose products I use, and to pass on product information and reviews to readers. The more readers I have, the better for that particular ask, I reckon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week ending February 5: 28 days

 Less than a mile to
Cottonwood Trail.
Mon 1/30 3 miles Speaking of not getting too hasty, I was remarkably dead-legged today. I could have run more than the three miles I did, but there didn’t seem to be much reason. The second day after a long run has been harder than the day after.

Tue 1/31 3 miles  PAL staff spin class this morning with my colleague Melissa got me a good sweat. Apparently it also got me a good workout: I felt pretty happy to only be running three miles today.

January total: 186 miles in 24 runs

Wed 2/1 7 miles at Croft Felt fast and strong. I must have been running almost as fast as Geoff Roes at Mile 80 of Western States... This run and its 8 1/2 mile cousin were standards leading up to last year's Terrapin Mountain race. Both involve a series of fairly long climbs in the first half or so, followed by three miles of mostly flat and downhill smooth trail. The run is excellent for leg turnover with just a little fatigue in them from the hills of the first sections. 

Thu 2/2 5 miles at Cottonwood. Another good run in the dark, with no light on the trail. Quicker pace, but I was still late for ukulele practice.

Fri 2/3 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot. Friday evening lights on the fields at the high school, but no one around.

Sat 2/4 4 miles easy on Cottonwood

Sun 2/5 7 miles at Croft. Felt tired legged, and unmotivated despite the stunning weather. I reminded myself of the piles of training plans I’ve seen that call for increasing mileage and effort for three weeks, then taking a down week. My body remembered, I guess. Bristol and I bushwhacked along the lake shore for a while, then doubled back. My head told me to go spend Super Bowl Sunday with my Gorgeous.

Total 33 miles in 7 runs

No motivation problems getting out at all. I feel like the consistency has been good for me physically for more than just fitness. In the past, I’ve felt sore every morning, taking some time to stumble around like an old man. Though it seems somehow a little counterintuitive, I wake up without foot pain, or sore quads or calves. My balance is better, especially putting on pants first thing in the morning. I’m not sure if I’ve tripped on the stairs.

I added two or three more runs to my week, and 10-15 miles a week, without building up to it at all. I’ve been able to pay (had to pay?) more attention to recovery runs, and the frequent barefoot running has to be part of the improvements in balance. I think the daily shake out leaves me feeling fresh, somehow; I feel certain there’s a physiological explanation.

I had this song stuck in my head during Sunday's run. I guess I didn't get all the bad thoughts out.